The top match up of the weekend in the Pac-12 this Saturday night (7:30pm ET) features two undefeated and top-25 teams with the 3rd-rnaked Trojans of Southern California (2-0) bringing one of the top offensive units in the country into Palo Alto, CA to take on the defending conference champion and 16th-ranked Stanford Cardinal (2-0). This game has been one of the most entertaining rivalries in the country in recent years, and the tide has turned from the days when USC would dominate their northern California foes, with Stanford winning the last three games outright including a 56-48 overtime thriller at the LA Coliseum last season. USC is 0-2 ATS this season, failing to cover 24.5 and 44.5 lines in their wins over Syracuse on the road last week (42-29) and Hawaii in week 1 (49-10) at home. Stanford is 1-1 ATS this season covering a 16.5 point line against Duke last week, but failing to cover a 25.5 point line in week one against San Jose St.
The Trojans feature an offense full of star power led by Heisman-trophy favorite Matt Barkley (559 yards passing, 10 TDs and 1 INT in 2012) at quarterback. Running back Silas Redd (163 yards rushing) a Penn State transfer, and wide receiver Marquise Lee (263 yards receiving and 4 TDs) are two explosive players who can score any time they touch the ball. The Trojan defense has been adequate in their two games this season, allowing 19.5 points per game (47th among FBS teams) and 359.5 yards per game (57th in total defense).
Stanford features a run-heavy, ball control offense that will rely even more on stud running back Stepfan Taylor ( 185 yard rushing, 2 TDs) with the loss of QB Andrew Luck. Josh Nunes takes over at QB for the Cardinal, and he has thrown for 400 yards and 4 TDs in their wins over Duke (51-13 last week) and San Jose State (20-17 in the opener). The Stanford defense has allowed 15 PPG against weak completion, but has been vulnerable against the pass ranking 10nd in the nation with 287 YPG allowed through the air.
USC vs. Stanford Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
USC Trojans -9
@ Stanford Cardinal +9
Over 56.5 (-110)
Under 56.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from BetOnline.com
USC vs. Stanford Pick:
USC is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Pac-12 games and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games against teams with a winning record. Stanford is 11-2-1 ATS in their last 14 Pac-12 games and 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games against a team with a winning record. The under is 5-2 in USC’s last 7 games on grass. The over is 4-1 in Stanford’s last 5 Pac-12 games and 14-5 in their last 19 home games. In head-to-head play, the over is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings between the two teams in Palo Alto, and the over is 13-3 in their last 16 meetings overall. The road team is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 meetings, and the Trojans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
Recent meetings between these two teams have been barn-burners, with the last 4 games going over including last season when the teams combined for almost 1,000 yards of total offense. Barkely should have a huge day against what looks like a suspect Stanford secondary, and he has thrown for 284 yards and 390 yards in the last two meetings with the Cardinal. The USC running game carried the team last week, averaging 7.8 YPC with Redd leading the way with 107 yards on only 15 carries, but he will be tested more this week against a strong Cardinal run defense which should force Barkley to the air and lead to his first big game of the year. The Stanford running game is not where Head Coach David Shaw would like it at this point in the season, as they managed only 92 yards on the ground against a Duke team that was among the worst in the country against the run last season allowing 4.9 YPC. Nunes was able to get some big plays in the passing game however, throwing for 275 yards. He should be able to have success against a Trojan secondary that allowed 322 yards passing against Syracuse last week. Look for another shootout in this game, Stanford is a tempting pick with the points at home, and if you are looking for a parlay the Cardinal and the over is not a bad one. The best pick is to take the over her in what has proven to be one of the most entertaining match ups of the season in recent years.
PICK = Over 56.5